She's Not Just Another PrincessRebekah Kuschmider
So, my baby is really into putting clothes and accessories on. First thing in the morning she has to put on shoes. With her jammies. No waiting until she’s dressed, shoes, right now. She wants to wear bibs all day long, sometimes more than one. Any hat in her line of vision? Gotta go right on her head. Last week, she borrowed a shiny bracelet from a friend. No, not her friend. MY friend. She stole a bracelet off the arm of and adult and wore it like she owned it.
Personally, I think putting clothes on is a perfectly fine activity for a 14-month-old. She’s learning useful skills, she looks adorable, and she’s having fun. Winning! Rather than give her clothes belonging to other members of the family to potentially get ruined in the name of play time, I located a toy store gift card I had lying around and headed out shopping for dress up stuff for her.
Now, my expectations for baby-sized dress ups were pretty low. I know she’s too small for most of the pretend play clothes out there, but I was hoping to find some hats, maybe some plastic bangles for her arms, and possibly stuff she could grow into. And I found plenty. Lots of dress-up options for girls. Well, lots of options if what a girl wants to be is a princess.
I have nothing against princesses. Princesses are a literary and mythologic archetype for a reason and they have their place. Everyone should have access to princess books/toys/costumes/movies. But for the love of all things feminist, can’t girls also have access to non-princess items?
There is just so much princess stuff out there and it depresses me. It just doesn’t seem reflective of the rich lives of girls. I spent the past two years as a parent volunteer in my son’s preschool and I watched the kids play with one another. If I had to say what I saw the girls doing the most often, it wasn’t playing dress up with the princess stuff that was available to them. It was having competitions to see who could do the monkey bars backwards or with their eyes closed. I watched them grind chalk into a powder they called fairy dust. They rode bikes and made art projects. They weren’t stuck in a castle. They were kids, doing kid things with all the kid stuff at hand.
I’m sick of Reign of the Princess and the ubiquity of mass-marketed princess goods. I know there are dress up clothes for the child who wants to dress a firefighter, doctor, or train conductor. We even have some. But I didn’t see any of those in the big-box type toy store I went to and it just made me sad. Options for girls should be front and center, not relegated to the margins. There is a world beyond princesses. Let’s give it to our girls.
Since my shopping trip, Toys “R” Us in the UK announced it would stop using gender based marketing. Can we have that here too, please?
Photo Credit: iStock